Professional Societies Thank Secretary Salazar for Support of Scientific Integrity
On 15 February 2011, TWS joined other scientific and professional societies in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar thanking him for his support of scientific integrity through the recent adoption of the Department of Interior’s Scientific Integrity Policy. The letter specifically expressed appreciation for the policy’s acknowledgement of the role of science in decision-making and the benefits of full participation in professional and scholarly societies, including in leadership roles. While the letter emphasized that the policy represents significant strides towards the protection of scientific integrity in the Department of the Interior, it also mentioned were additional measures that TWS hopes will soon become part of the policy. These include issues identified in President Obama’s March 2009 memorandum regarding scientific integrity in all federal agencies, such as peer review and whistleblower protections.

TWS Supports Wildlife Diseases Emergency Act
TWS and other conservation organizations sent a letter of thanks to Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) on 15 February 2011 for introducing the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act (S. 357). Wildlife diseases - such as White-nose syndrome, West Nile Virus, and diseases impacting native pollinators - pose an increasingly significant threat to wildlife and have economic and human-health implications. Responding to emerging diseases has inherent challenges, such as lack of intellectual, logistical, and financial resources.

TWS supports the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act because it would help remedy these challenges through a coordinated response team and an interagency Wildlife Disease Committee that would facilitate scientific discoveries and inform decision-making in the early stages of an outbreak. Other strengths of the Act include the ability of the Secretary of Interior to mobilize support of federal, state, and tribal agencies and NGOs to provide logistical assistance for monitoring and managing a disease; the Wildlife Disease Emergency Fund and Grant Program that would speed the delivery of funds for response actions; and the ability of the Secretary to declare a wildlife disease emergency in coordination with state governments.

Conservation Groups Urge Restoration of Conservation Funds Cut in H.R. 1
On 17 February 2011, TWS and other members of the hunting, fishing, and conservation community sent a letter to all House representatives regarding provisions and amendments made to the House Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R. 1, designed to keep the federal government funded for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. Targeted provisions and amendments in the House CR would affect numerous programs that focus on the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and their habitat and have consistently received federal support. Some of the programs experiencing drastic reductions or elimination of funding include the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, Farm Bill Conservation Programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The letter emphasized that the programs targeted for cuts in funding have had long track records of success, create jobs, and are critical in providing opportunities to America’s sportsmen and women. It acknowledged that the budget deficit requires reductions to the federal budget but stated that cuts to conservation programs should not outweigh those of others; they should bear a proportional share of budget cuts instead of the extreme reductions and zeroing out of many essential programs that were proposed in H.R. 1.

In a similar letter, TWS and other members of the hunting, fishing, and conservation community reached out to all members of the Senate on 1 March 2011 regarding H.R. 1, passed by the House on 19 February 2011. Once again, the group stressed that severe cuts were imposed to several key conservation programs that have been consistent in their achievements in the past. TWS expressed disappointment that the House considered these actions without consultation of the conservation community and respectfully urged that funding be restored to these vital programs.

TWS Urges Opposition of Legislation Undercutting Use of Best Available Science
On 17 February 2011, TWS joined other conservation organizations in letters to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) urging them to oppose legislation that would remove best available science as a basis for implementing conservation, environmental and public health laws. The letter expressed concern that the changes proposed in the continuing resolution would halt the public comment and judicial review process, defund conservation programs based on science, and replace them with directives supported by special interests, often far more parochial than national. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was highlighted as just one example of a critical wildlife law that would be weakened by such provisions, as the use of best available science is critical for listing decisions.

TWS Calls for Senate to Protect Wildlife Programs in Continuing Resolution
On 14 March 2011, TWS and 558 members of the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition, including 14 TWS Chapters, sent a letter to the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the leadership of the Appropriations Committee, and key officials within the Department of the Interior seeking support for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. The letter requested that funding be restored to the State and Wildlife Grants Program in the FY11 continuing resolution to the FY10 level of $90 million. The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is the nation’s only program with the sole focus of preventing future endangered species listings and keeping common species common. The group stressed that elimination of the program would result in severe consequences, including the erosion of more than a decade of investments to conserve more than 12,000 at-risk species nationwide.

POSITION STATEMENTS OPEN FOR COMMENT
Revised Position Statement: Recognition of Wildlife Needs in Forest Management
In October, Council approved a revised position statement on Recognition of Wildlife Needs in Forest Management. A number of trends have implications for the current and future state of wildlife habitat on forestlands, a few of which include the following: forestland conversion, fire-related threats and losses, successional stage representation, non-native and invasive species, and climate change. TWS seeks to address these issues in part through a strong policy position on the needs of wildlife in forest management. For example, TWS encourages the creation and support of incentives to limit conversion, full consideration of wildlife in forest planning, protection and restoration of late-successional forests and advocates research on disturbance ecology and the range of variation of forest systems as well as science-based approaches to obtaining forest biomass for fuels.

Visit TWS’ Government Affairs site to read the position statement in full. Comments are due to Laura Bies ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) by 1 April 2011.

Draft Position Statement: Animal Rights Philosophy and Wildlife Conservation
Council has also approved a draft position statement on Animal Rights Philosophy and Wildlife Conservation. Animal rights philosophy differs fundamentally from a holistic conservation ethic because its focus is placed on the individual rather than populations, species, and ecosystems. It offers a reductionist view which ignores the inter-relatedness of wildlife communities and functioning ecosystems and rejects the sacrifice of individual rights to conserve populations, species, or ecosystems. The conflict between animal rights philosophy and wildlife management and conservation is profound as the former contradicts scientifically established management principles and techniques, rejects fund-generating hunting and fishing, and opposes the concept of wildlife as property held as a public trust resource. TWS recognizes that animal rights philosophy conflicts with the science-based conservation and management of wildlife and rejects it as a basis for wildlife conservation.

Visit TWS’ Government Affairs site to read the position statement in full. Comments are due to Laura Bies ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) by 1 April 2011.

Revised Position Statement: Shooting Preserves
A revised statement on Shooting Preserves for Game Birds is now available for review and comment. Properly managed shooting preserves offer recreation opportunities to the hunting public, provide an opportunity for those who have never hunted to be introduced to hunting, and have the potential to provide demonstration sites for desirable wildlife management practices. However, shooting preserves also raise a number of issues, including (1) the possibility of released animals establishing free-ranging populations, (2) disease transmission to native wildlife, (3) compliance with fair-chase hunting ethics and the Public Trust Doctrine, and (4) the development of negative attitudes towards hunting by the public due to the artificial and highly managed situations often created by shooting preserves. TWS’ policy recommends the science-based management of these preserves by state and provincial agencies, the use of game species only, assignment of primary regulatory authority to state and provincial agencies, encouragement of the licensing and continued private operation of preserves, and the development of management plans.

Visit TWS’ Government Affairs site to read the position statement in full. Comments are due to Laura Bies ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) by 1 May 2011.

TAKE ACTION
Comment on the National Wildlife Refuge System Draft Vision Statement
On 17 January 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a draft vision document for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The draft, entitled “Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation,” explores the Refuge System’s history, the challenges that it has and continues to face, and offers recommendations for how the system can achieve excellence in the future. The FWS is asking for feedback and comments from the public in order to finalize a new, national vision for the Wildlife Refuge System.

Comments will be accepted until 22 April 2011 and can be posted directly on the Draft Vision website, or emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . The next version of the vision document will be discussed in July 2011 at a national conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Comment on the Forest Service Planning Rule
On 14 February 2011, the Forest Service released its draft planning rule that will determine the future management of the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The rule establishes a new framework for the development of all land management plans and includes provisions to guide forest and watershed restoration and resilience, habitat protection, sustainable recreation, and management of multiple uses. The Service noted that the rule is designed to speed planning efforts, utilize the best available science, engage the public, and enhance resilience to climate change, pests, and other threats. The new rule follows three previous attempts at rule revisions by the Service since 2000 that were ultimately rejected in court.

Visit the Forest Service Planning Rule homepage to view the draft rule, follow updates, and learn how to submit comments. The proposed rule is open for comment until 16 May 2011.

 
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